Faculty Advancement Program: Sample abstracts of successful and unsuccessful grants

Title: “Morocco Away”

The project seeks to create a study abroad program in Marrakesh, Morocco. A few ACS schools already have programs based in Morocco. The proposal intends to build on those and to establish a permanent program for all ACS campuses to share. Several ACS schools also offer Arabic language instruction, and the new program in Marrakesh would provide a distinctive feature for students who want to study Arabic. Faculty in various disciplines – especially in the Humanities and Social Sciences – could boost interest in their programs by linking them to this exciting research and intercultural experience. Finally, staff in study abroad offices can be involved in running the program, thereby making it a truly collaborative effort. The main project goal is to provide a stable, consortium-wide opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to study in an Arabic-speaking country. We will evaluate this goal based on the number of students who sign up; we expect that, in the first five years of the program, to see upwards of fifty students participate.

On the plus side, this abstract

  • Offers a clear goal
  • Complements and intends to strengthen curriculum
  • Opens the door to new forms of inter-campus collaboration
  • Involves staff in addition to faculty


However, the abstract does not directly engage the themes of the grant: experimentation, collaboration, and innovation. Without further development, the abstract simply describes an add-on study abroad opportunity. For the purposes of Mellon funding, it does not go far enough. The shortcomings in need of redress include:


  • A lack of specifics regarding what campuses, disciplines, courses, and program directors are committing to the goal (and why)
  • Insufficient explanation as to how disciplines and courses will be integrated into and supported by the Marrakesh program
  • The absence of classroom technology to enhance and intercultural learning, language instruction, and shared programming, e.g., pre-departure orientation or undergraduate research presentations
  • A lack of meaningful student learning outcomes
  • Inadequate attention to how the project will be sustained after the grant period ends


We encourage all proposers to have concrete ideas as to the “who, how, and why” of your collaborative ideas. (Remember that staff, too, can be essential collaborators on a variety of projects.) Keep in mind the role of technology and campus IT resources in order to open new possibilities for experimentation and collaboration. Finally, consider the outcomes and how you will evaluate project success (see Assessment below). On these and other points, ACS staff is happy to help guide you toward successful full proposals over the course of the summer.


Improved sample abstract:

The project seeks to create a study abroad program in Marrakesh, Morocco and is intended to achieve a number of related goals:

  • To supplement and sustain Arabic language study on XYZ campuses. The program will serve as an incentive for students to study Arabic, for instructors to enrich their professional networking, and for the campuses to strengthen their strategic goal of global engagement.
  • To offer a destination for programs in the Humanities and Social Sciences for undergraduate study and research. Specifically, interdisciplinary directors in the existing Middle Eastern Studies programs at ABC colleges have expressed a need for a study abroad program that offers classes to supplement those being offered on their home campuses.
  • To strengthen the participating campuses’ strategic goal of global engagement through co-curricular opportunities on the ground in Marrakesh.

The project will involve language instructors, faculty program directors, international program officers, and experiential learning and instructional technology staff on ABC/XYZ campuses. It is designed to integrate language instruction, courses in the history, politics, and culture of the Middle East, and experiential opportunities through blended learning across the campuses before, during, and after the trip.

Expected project outcomes and measures include:

  • The growth in enrollment and course offerings in participating programs without increased cost of instruction
  • The creation of departments across campus boundaries, increased faculty development and satisfaction through peer connections, and expansion of curricular offerings for students, all while containing institutional costs
  • The improvement of Arabic language proficiency levels
  • The strengthening of intercultural knowledge and competence

Evidence that these project outcomes are being achieved during the grant period will, we believe, offer a basis for institutional support in order to sustain the program over the longer term.